Twitter
Last Month's Top Sellers

1. BOB DYLAN - More Blood, More Tracks
2. THE BEATLES - White Album
3. DOUG PAISLEY - Starter Home
4. VARIOUS - Cover Me: Songs Of Eddie Hinton
5. VARIOUS - State Of The Union

Click here for full list.

Search
Login

FEATURED RELEASES

Tuesday
Nov132018

OXFORD AMERICAN 2018 Music Issue

"Welcome to the twentieth installment of the Oxford American’s Southern Music series. North Carolinians are not shy about celebrating their achievements—see: FIRST IN FLIGHT; the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Halifax Resolves; America’s earliest public college; Pepsi; Michael Jordan—and in the realm of music, the land of the longleaf pine has had a deep and enduring influence. I will tell you right off that a lot of the stories and songs in this issue are about pride.

The profiles, eulogies, and essays herein boast of remarkable achievements of North Carolina’s musicians across eras and genres: from unassailable legends (High Point’s John Coltrane, Tryon’s Nina Simone, Chapel Hill’s James Taylor) to contemporary masters (Snow Hill’s Rapsody, Jacksonville’s Ryan Adams, Raleigh’s 9th Wonder) to the seen-afresh (Dunn’s Link Wray, Kannapolis’s George Clinton, Winston-Salem’s dB’s, Charlotte’s Jodeci)—and, of course, the often-overlooked and in-between (Winston-Salem’s Wesley Johnson, Morganton’s Etta Baker, Chapel Hill’s Liquid Pleasure, Kinston’s Nathaniel Jones, Black Mountain’s period of hosting John Cage). 

The songs on the accompanying sampler (you can listen to the CD that came with your magazine, or via digital download using the code on the card inside the disc sleeve) were made across almost one hundred years—from April 1924, when Samantha Bumgarner and Eva Davis cut “Big-Eyed Rabbit” on 78 rpm, to September 2018, when Shannon Whitworth recorded a beautiful new version of Ella May Wiggins’s 1929 protest ballad in Asheville especially for our mix. In between, you have moments of transcendent musical history: Coltrane joining fellow North Carolinian Thelonious Monk’s band for some months in 1957; Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson sharing a stage in Winston-Salem in 2002; Cas Wallin hollering an old ballad of Madison County into a field recordist’s microphone in 1963; Sylvan Esso reconfiguring its music live on all-Moog synthesizers in 2013; Big Boy Henry talking his improvisational blues in 1982; brothers Vernon, Doug, and Link Wray gathering around a tape recorder in their kitchen in 1952. Some of these songs have not been publicly released until now.

This is the seventh Oxford American Music Issue I’ve worked on, and it’s always rewarding to dig into the South’s bottomless musical bounty. It is with overwhelming pride and Tarheel allegiance that I introduce the music issue devoted to my home state. North Carolina, I love you." - Oxford American

Monday
Nov122018

AMBER ARCADES - European Heartbreak

"...From the stately strings on Goodnight Europe to the plea for adventure as she croons 'Everything's been done / But not by you and me' on the crisply melodic Alpine Town, this is pop music with a bittersweet centre but a sugar coating so beautifully assembled that it slips effortlessly into the deep recesses of your brain. There’s so much joy captured in the jaunty piano of I’ve Done the Best and the lovestruck Oh My Love (What Have We Done), that it’s hard to believe that when she’s not making music De Graaf is working on war crimes trials for the UN.

There are touches of the Magnetic Fields in the arrangements, the effortless melodies of Teenage Fanclub or a less abstract iteration of Beach House, but when De Graaf waltzes through the slide guitar assisted Antoine or the potent power pop of Where Did You Go she’s so perfectly in command of her medium that it’s astonishing.

There’s not a single track on European Heartbreak that isn’t a beautifully composed, shining picture postcard of emotion from a songwriter you should be listening to right now." - The Skinny

Monday
Nov122018

DOUG PAISLEY - Starter Home

"Plenty has changed for Doug Paisley since his 2014 album Strong Feelings. He’s a family man now, which prompted him to take a break from touring and recording—though not, it seems, from writing. Which brings us to one thing that hasn’t changed: the Toronto singer’s gift for spellbinding subtlety on songs that take quiet hold of your heart and refuse to let go.

Paisley’s tunes are understated enough that they stick in your head without you even noticing, until you’re going about your day and humming one of his melodies and wondering how it got there. He takes a minimalist approach to the nine songs on Starter Home, focusing mostly on acoustic guitar and his warm, slightly rumpled voice. There are adornments here and there from violin, keyboards and steel guitar, which add texture and atmosphere to songs that seem unassuming until you listen closely enough to hear just how devastating they are...." - Paste

Friday
Oct192018

GONZALES - Solo Piano III

"Some people just make beautiful music. You can, as a listener or a writer, seek the best descriptions of what the music does, how it makes you feel, where it takes you to, but when all is said and done, some music is just beautiful. It's an overused term, the kind that adorns press releases, posters, and social media so as to be rendered less powerful than it once was, but, and at the risk of repeating myself I have to say it again, when music is beautiful, it just is. Such is the case with Solo Piano III, the dazzling new record from Chilly Gonzales.

The title should give you a clue: there are two more of these albums which are more than worth your time too. If you're looking for the kind of music which will simultaneously relax you and gently convince you of the sheer beauty of the piano as a solo instrument then this album is for you. The 15 compositions showcased here paint a picture of Gonzales as a master of his instrument. Whether you're initially grabbed by the flowing arpeggios of "Nimbus," the blues-y flow of "Cactus Impromptu," or the sinuous groove of the aptly named "Present Tense," which demands both the attention of catching of breathyou'll soon find yourself wondering why you'd not given Chilly Gonzales time on your stereo or your heart before. This is an album that both delights and haunts. The solo piano is a potent force in the right hands. Lovely." - Under The Radar

Friday
Oct192018

LALA LALA - The Lamb

"At its core, The Lamb is an album about a lack of control. It operates between two poles, shifting between paranoia about the apocalypse and the insular struggle of rewiring your brain during struggles with addiction. Both of them stem from feeling like you have no say — over your actions, your destiny, or what might happen to you at any given moment.

She translates those anxieties into songs that feel like wired fever dreams. And putting those murky thought loops that possessed her mind into something concrete like music helped West come to terms with the fact that the doomsday probably isn’t right around the corner. That realization comes with its own set of fears and troubles, but for right now just existing seems like enough: “As I’m seeing now, more often than not, people continue living and things don’t explode,” she says. “I keep going on planes and they keep not crashing.” - Sterogum

Thursday
Oct182018

SMOKESCREENS - Used To Yesterday

"Smokescreens began as a love letter to the Flying Nun scene of the 1980’s and it’s outlying bands. Chris Rosi and Corey Cunningham had become friends when the pair toured together in their bands Plateaus and Terry Malts in 2011. By 2015 both had moved to Los Angeles where they began the band in earnest with Rosi on guitar and Cunningham on bass. After getting their sea legs playing the bars and bowling alleys of Southern California, the duo recruited engineer/drummer Jon Greene to help them commit their shambolic paeans to kiwi pop onto tape. Recorded in a disused dairy factory and mixed in mono, their self-titled debut came out on Cunningham’s label Parked In Hell in February of 2017 and was reissued by Spain’s Meritorio Records later that summer.

After the passing of Jon Greene, the pair re-grouped with drummer Brice Bradley and bassist Jenny Moffett, a move that enabled Cunningham to switch to lead guitar and keyboards. The group worked tirelessly, nurturing their sound and writing batches of songs with steadfast dedication. They soon decamped to Primitive Ears, a small studio in North Hollywood, where they tracked the 10 songs that make up "Used To Yesterday." After a handful of quicksilver sessions, the group brought the tapes to producer Kyle Mullarky (The Allah-lahs) who created a final mix that really captures the band's rhythmic drive and melodic verve.

"Used To Yesterday" continues Smokescreen’s zeal for New Zealand pop but also incorporates influences from the more melodic side of Messthetics-era DIY pop and expands into classic indie pop territory, a natural fit for the group’s new label Slumberland Records. First single "The Lost Song" perfectly encapsulates where the band is coming from on this new record; literally a lost demo from the group's earliest days, it is here given a NZ-meets-Athens GA arrangement, galloping along at an urgent clip and packed with guitars that strum and jangle in magical unison.

Where Smokescreens really excel is in the quality of their songwriting and the ability to incorporate a disparate set of influences while still forging their own sound and identity. The song "Used To Yesterday" is classic power-pop, riding a chunky three chord riff and leavened by a bright, clanging lead. Elsewhere we find nods to The Velvet Underground ("Fool Me"), The Clean ("Someone New") and SF's beloved The Aislers Set ("Waiting For Summer"). Smokescreens are such skilled writers and keen students of sound that their cover of the über-obscure NZ band Wasp Factory's "Steel Blue Skies" fits in seamlessly. Album closer "Falling Down" could be a lost single from LA's paisley underground and definitely leaves the listener itching to hear where the band goes next." - Slumberland

Friday
Sep072018

SPIRITUALIZED - And Nothing Hurt

"J. Spaceman makes music that can fill Royal Albert Hall. For nearly three decades, his band Spiritualized has turned space-rock into a spectacle worthy of crystal chandeliers and velvet seats, complete with choral, horn and string arrangements. The last 10 years, in particular, have yielded the positively lush records Songs in A&E and Sweet Heart Sweet Light, which throw back to the orchestral bluster of late-'60s Scott Walker and The Beatles at their most extravagant. But when making a new record, J. Spaceman (a.k.a. Jason Pierce), like every other musician struggling in an economy unkind to artistry, could not afford excess time in a lavish studio. So he bought a laptop and got to work.

 Not that you would know it just by listening, but And Nothing Hurt makes a living room sound like a cathedral.

"I wanted to make like a 1960s Columbia Studios recording, but without ever going to the studio to put that thing together," he told KEXP. "And it seemed kind of dumb. I don't know what went down. I became so obsessed."

J. Spaceman learned the ins and outs of home recording in his East London abode, using a cast of musicians just as ambitious as on his standard fare, painstakingly layering sound on sound to get bigger and bigger. (To complicate the process, he had to book 10 different studios to record instruments he couldn't quite capture at home.) "I'm Your Man" is a sterling example of his ambition: Its warm, Stax-style horns are swirled in psychedelic R&B, culminating in a sky-high guitar solo. "Let's Dance" is deceptively stripped back, a charming space waltz that builds with piano here, guitar there, and then slowly adds a Beach Boys-style boom boom tsh to what eventually becomes a synth-and-horns carnival of sound.

There are a few rockers, as well, perhaps in a nod to 2001's Let It Come Down. Both "On the Sunshine" and "The Morning After" set the R&B rave-up to raging speeds, culminating in a cacophony of feedback, free-jazz saxophone and drums. But J. Spaceman is quick to temper the noise with something like church, especially in the spectral slow burn of "The Prize."

J. Spaceman's soulful quiver has sometimes blended into the sonic wallpaper of past Spiritualized records. And Nothing Hurt almost foregrounds him by necessity — you can imagine the Englishman hunching over a microphone in his home as he tenderly sings the album's closer: "If I could hold it down / I would sail on through for you / If I weren't loaded down / I would sail on through for you." Like much of the record, it's not necessarily hopeful, but he knows there's something ahead." - NPR

Monday
Jul302018

VA - Agnes Obel: Late Night Tales

"This is an unusual, beautiful and dark album curated by — and at times performed by — the Danish musician Agnes Obel. It's part of a series of artist-curated albums called Late Night Tales. Nils Frahm, The Flaming Lips, Jon Hopkins and others have put their own records together for the series in the past. For her Late Night Tale, Agnes Obel has chosen music from a wide variety of artists — from the soul of Nina Simone to the wit and wisdom of The Kinks' Ray Davies, the lush strings of Henry Mancini, the quirkiness of Can and the ethereal Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Choir. Somehow she has managed to stitch it altogether.

My first listen to this album was transporting. Agnes Obel says that she "collected all the songs together with my partner, Alex Brüel Flagstad and we just spent time listening to records, trying to see what would fit together. Some of the music I've included here is on mixtapes we made when we were just friends as teenagers. Each one of the tracks produces stories in my head."

Included with these older tracks are three new, original songs from Agnes, including a collaboration with the Danish poet Inger Christensen's work, "Poem on Death." I suggest you hit the play button and listen to the songs and read Agnes Obel's descriptions. This is truly a rare listening experience I'm thrilled to share." - NPR

Saturday
Jun232018

MICHAEL RAULT - It's A New Day Tonight

"It’s too bad Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks already called their album Sparkle Hard earlier this year, because that simple little phrase would work well as the name of Michael Rault’s sophomore effort. Not so much thematically, that is, but sonically. The record—actually titled It’s A New Day Tonight—glimmers like a taut pop-rock song pouring from radio speakers in the ‘70s. Warm tones, breezy melodies and the sugary strum of guitar strings crackle under crisp production. It’s a timeless sound...

...There are plenty of ‘60s and ‘70s touchstones here, but the biggies are The Beatles, The Kinks and Big Star. Those are big footsteps to trace, yes, but Rault is certainly capable, and It’s A New Day Tonight offers hook after hook after hook draped in a credible vintage sheen by folks that understand vintage sheen. As long as you’re not allergic to classic pop-rock earworms, it’s a solid record that deserves repeated spins." - Paste

Tuesday
May222018

FRANCOISE HARDY - The Despair Of Monkeys & Other Trifles: A Memoir

"Françoise Hardy has had quite a career. She rose to fame as a singer-songwriter in the 1960s. She was part of, if not in the forefront of the yé-yé movement (a style of pop music originating in Europe in the 1960s). She scored many hits in her native France and around the world. “Tous les garçons et les filles”, “Et même”, and “Only You Can Do It” (“Je veux qu’il revienne”) were her biggest international hits. She was also a model, actress, author and expert on astrology...She is not shy about sharing her personal life. Her friendships and relationships make this book near impossible to put down at times. She writes the book very matter-of-facty and without judgement. This is quite refreshing. Her meeting of Nick Drake is an interesting read and her description of Mick Jagger (“bewitching”) is also quite fascinating. She is also very open about her unique marriage to French singer, Jacques Dutronc (with whom she is still legally married)...

The Despair of Monkeys and Other Trifles: A Memoir was originally written in 2008 in French. It has taken a number of years for the book to be translated into English, but it does not take away from the book. It is still a worthwhile read. Besides being a great autobiography it also provides a look at an era, or rather multiple eras and ways of life that no longer seem to exist. The book also features some never before seen photos of Hardy and her friends." - Spill Magazine

Monday
May212018

SHACKS - Haze

"The first thing you notice about almost any song by The Shacks is that voice. Singer Shannon Wise wields a mesmerizing wisp, silky and lambent, like curls of smoke swirling into a moonlight sky. If it sounds familiar at all, it may be that you caught the Apple iPhone ad last fall that featured Wise, singing the group's 2016 cover of Ray Davies' "This Strange Effect," as she walked through different Los Angeles backdrops. (It's not every day that one of the richest companies in the world essentially shoots a music video for you.)

Wise has had a good track record with "strange" songs; producer Max Shrager first worked with her when he invited Wise to sing on "Strange Boy," a 2016 single by Brooklyn's El Michels Affair, which led directly to the two forming The Shacks. With their debut album, they've continued to perfect a sound that accentuates the subtleties of Wise's vocal instrument. She doesn't have the range or volume of more conventional pop and soul artists, so The Shacks have learned to boost its presence through smartly stacked overdubs and woozy sheets of reverb. Is it any surprise that the group has named its album Haze? 

Key to their style is how The Shacks embrace of a wide range of influences that owe as much to American R&B and British rock and roll styles of the '60s as it does '80s and '90s indie- and dream-pop..." - NPR

Saturday
Apr282018

SONNY SMITH - Rod For Your Love

"On his own, or as leader of Sonny and the Sunsets, the engaging Sonny Smith specializes in finely observed vignettes about everyday people that showcase his wry, slackerish voice. For all its rough edges, though, there’s nothing casual about his scruffy garage pop, which tempers a streak of melancholy with offhand, self-aware wit. Produced by Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach (who knows a thing or two about making eccentricity accessible), Rod for Your Love is Smith’s most commercial effort yet—it’s all relative—boasting a brighter sound and sunnier vibe than before. Witness the jaunty, toe-tapping optimism of the irresistible “Lost,” where he chirps, “I know the way this time,” or the romantic drama “Burnin’ Up,” featuring Angel Olsen’s tangy harmonies. While Smith may never top the charts, he’s never been more entertaining or more deserving of mainstream attention." - Mother Jones

Tuesday
Apr102018

ALELA DIANE - Cusp

"Oregon-based singer-songwriter Alela Diane Menig’s outstanding fifth album is the result of her confronting what she sees as one of the more ridiculous remaining artistic taboos – that women should not write songs about having babies. The singer has form when it comes to going deep – 2013’s melancholy About Farewell documented her painful break-up from husband and band-member Tom Bevitori – and Cusp gains much from exploring motherhood’s agonies as well as ecstasies.

Her thoughtful, dreamy vocals drift across a grand piano, providing both pretty and wistful songs with emotional wallop. Never Easy finds a new appreciation of her own mother; So Tired addresses the fatigue of labour; Threshold and Moves Us Blind are sublime ruminations on the passage of time...The album title comes from Menig’s near-death during childbirth, and her subsequent realisation that we are forever “on the cusp” between death and life, heartbreak and euphoria, all of which are in fulsome supply here." - The Guardian

Saturday
Apr072018

JOHANN JOHANNSSON - Englaborn + Remixes

"With future successes and greater works imminent, Jóhannsson's shocking and sudden passing at the age of 48 makes it all the more bittersweet to have Englabörn reissued as an expanded package. Originally conceived as a set of cues for a play by Hávar Sigurjónsson, Englabörn became a standalone composition. It has all the hallmarks of the film scores that followed: the knack for finding a heart-stirring theme and developing variations, the suggestion of emotional complexity in a handful of notes, being traditional in his sound while also suggesting new possibilities. The opening notes of "Odi Et Amo" still bear a great sadness, a feeling that transfers to the plinking chimes and electronics of "Bað." "Ég Sleppi Þér Aldrei" still feels like a chasmic grief that's at once vertiginous and aching. The mix of tocking percussion, chiming glockenspiel and strings on "Sálfræðingur" is somehow propulsive and pensive at once. 

The remixes show Jóhannsson's influence on his contemporaries. Fellow Icelander and one-time Touch labelmate Hildur Guðnadóttir uses her cello and electronics to find the latent growl in "Sálfræðingur Deyr." As A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O'Halloran take the brief "Ég Heyrði Allt Án Þess Að Hlusta" and scale it into something majestic. Theatre Of Voices deliver two notable reworks. They turn "Ég Heyrði Allt Án Þess Að Hlusta" into a chorale, and their version of "Odi Et Amo" gives Englabörn & Variations a heartbreaking finale. Having had "Solari" reimagined by Jóhannsson for his recent Async - Remodels LP, Ryuichi Sakamoto returns the favor on the exquisite "Jói & Karen." Himself a master at creating hybrids of classical composition and electronic ambience, Sakamoto quickly gets to the emotional kernel of the piece while also taking it into deep space. Englabörn & Variations won't be the last reissue of the composer's work, but Jóhannsson clearly had more to give. (In fact, he had been working on this package with Deutsche Grammophon shortly before his death.) What remains is a profound body of work that will continue to resonate." - Resident Advisor

Tuesday
Apr032018

DEDEKIND CUT - Tahoe

"In key with Kranky’s heritage, Dedekind Cut very neatly plays to the label aesthetic on Tahoe with a widescreen suite of slow, windswept synths layered into expansive harmonics evoking cinematic and psychedelic sensations. They range from pop-ambient pockets of bittersweetness to more brooding tracts of durational immersion, with each connected by an overarching feeling of sadness or unresolved strife.

It’s all very much what you’d expect from a Kranky release, until you start paying closer attention. Where Kranky’s chorus of ambient angels have often spent decades on their craft, developing personalised timbral sensitivities and sound identities, the shapeshifting Dedekind Cut’s newness to this particular field is betrayed by the more elusive reach of his soundsphere, but the artist makes up for a lack of tonal richness by conveying his intent more directly thru the arrangement and overall feeling, or soul connoted by his compositions." - Boomkat

Tuesday
Apr032018

NAP EYES - I'm Bad Now

"Nap Eyes are still a fairly new group, so they are still developing quite dramatically with each subsequent release. Overall though, the group has a calling card, and that would be boxed-in rock rhythms similar to the Velvet Underground, the Feelies, or the Strokes. Their debut, Whine of the Mystics, was more of a rave-up, often taking the faster, more aggressive side of their style, even closing out with a seven-minute motoric-driven chugger called, "No Fear of Hellfire". Their follow-up, Thought Rock Fish Scale, slowed it all down, throwing more focus on the nasally-spoken and meandering thoughts of Chapman. It was critically loved, but can be a bit of a snooze if slow strums and languid grooves don't excite your pleasure centers.

I'm Bad Now finds Nap Eyes somewhere in between their two former releases. The album starts out seering with "Everytime the Feeling" evoking annoyance and clenched teeth with aggressively down-strummed chords and Chapman nearly spitting his words at us. "I'm Bad" continues the same trajectory but goes one step further: Chapman calls the song's subject 'dumb' and abruptly follows it up with a dual guitar solo seriously reminiscent of Zuma-era Neil Young and Crazy Horse. It's quite the kick in the pants coming from a band named after feeling sleepy. There's a few more aggressive tracks, but mostly the album relaxes dramatically after the first third, all the way to the closing track, "Boats Appear", being just a few acoustic guitars and Chapman speak-singing like Lou Reed on "Pale Blue Eyes"." - Popmatters

Tuesday
Apr032018

MARK RENNER - Few Traces

"The sum of Renner’s music is one-part literary, one-part painterly. The artist cites the individualism of Herman Hesse as a guiding force, and there are overt references to W. B. Yeats and John Greanleaf Whittier among other authors. Lyrical themes evoke the presence of the ancient past, much like early Felt songs or the spiritual visions of Van Morrison. (Tellingly, Renner cites Morrison’s 1980s albums made between Inarticulate Speech of the Heart and No Guru, No Method, No Teacher as musical influences.) 

Apart from his writing, Renner explored music as a complement to visual language: many of the dream-like instrumental passages presented across Few Traces were originally implemented as sound elements for exhibitions of his paintings. Renner pursued wordless music as a pure aesthetic in its own right, pristinely balanced segues and open-ended compositions that lead to pasture but not without shepherd.

Compiled three decades after the music was originally put to tape, Few Traces collects Mark Renner’s early music but strives not to simplify or reframe it. (Mark is still active making music and painting) The instrumental explorations remain on par with the great ambient adventurers of the period (Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Roedelius), while the vocal and guitar-centric songs crystalize across similar terrains being transversed by Cocteau Twins and The Chills." - Boomkat

Saturday
Mar312018

BELLE ADAIR - Tuscumbia

"The tissue connecting the many strains of the musical community of Alabama is being created by a group that you might not expect: a winsome pop ensemble known as Belle Adair. But these four gents are at the nexus of so many different projects and sounds from the Yellowhammer State, with some of its members logging time in the Alabama Shakes and the whole group touring as the backing band for singer/songwriter Donnie Fritts. As well, the group helps run Single Lock Records, a label that has released the work of Alabaman heroes like John Paul White (The Civil Wars) and St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

Left to their own devices, Belle Adair goes for a much gentler sound influenced by the work of groups like Big Star and Teenage Fanclub. Their songs breeze by, urged forward by chiming guitar lines and melodies that seep into your skin like lotion. The band’s second album Tuscumbia abounds with that feeling, capped off by some cozy production work captured at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals and Wilco’s The Loft..." Paste

Friday
Mar162018

YO LA TENGO - There's A Riot Gong On

"Bringing the real world into the music world, veterans of indie rock Yo La Tengo release their 15th full-length album There's a Riot Going On. Haunting, soft, and dreamy from beginning to end, this album explores a multitude of sounds, leaving an impression of escaping to an altered reality. Starting the album off with the sprawling instrumental track "You Are Here," the electric guitars and hazy drones set the tone for the next 14 songs. Tracks like "Out of the Pool" and "Ashes" mix their shoegaze sound with a style of funk similar to the album's namesake, Sly and the Family Stone's 1971 record There's a Riot Goin' On.
 
Apart from the bouncier tracks, There's a Riot Going On is worthy of being the ultimate late-night album. Appropriately titled "Dream Dream Away" does just that. Playing with psychedelic elements of ample guitar riffs and Ira Kaplan's winsome vocals leaves chills down your spine, giving us the sense of being left in a liminal space...There's a Riot Going On is an exceptional addition to Yo La Tengo's legacy, a timeless classic." - Exclaim

Saturday
Mar032018

ANNA BURCH - Quit The Curse

Previously known for participating in folk-rock group Frontier Ruckus and co-leading indie pop quartet Failed Flowers, Michigan-based songwriter Anna Burch steps out into the spotlight with her excellent full-length solo debut, Quit the Curse. Several of these songs had previously appeared on limited cassettes, including a split EP with Stef Chura, but here they're given fresh, hi-fi studio production. Burch's voice was somewhat obscured in her previous bands, but here her vocals are resoundingly clear, and her lyrics are sharp and direct, sometimes to a startling degree. She expresses concern and frustration with friends who are constantly indifferent or have trouble connecting with their emotions, but she has similar issues to deal with herself.

On opener "2 Cool 2 Care," she's given up even thinking about finding true love, and on the more upbeat "Tea-Soaked Letter," she lets her true colors show and ends up making a scene and embarrassing herself. The slowly simmering "Asking 4 a Friend" arrives at a heavier chorus proclaiming "I think it's suspect you ever feel lonely at all." Her straightforward expressions of social anxiety are all too relatable, and the songs are easily memorable without being earworms. Like Chura, Burch's songs have enough lightly fuzzy guitars to recall some of the more accessible grunge and alternative rock produced during the '90s, but without sounding too derivative and ending up an exercise in nostalgia. "Belle Isle" is slower and closer to moonlit country-pop, with pedal steel guitar and an echoing glow on Burch's vocals. The album ends with one of its best songs, "With You Every Day," which sways softly but finds release with a simple but powerful wordless chorus. - Allmusic